Friday, January 14, 2005

Show Love for the Donkey

The symbol of the Democratic party is the donkey, as we all know. But few know why.

The donkey first become associated with the Democratic Party when our first populist President Andrew Jackson ran for president in 1828, his opponents tried to label him a "jackass" for his populist views and his slogan, "Let the people rule." Jackson, however, turned ridicule into an advantage by using the donkey on his campaign posters.

The first time the donkey was used in a political cartoon to represent the Democratic party, it was also in conjunction with Jackson. Although by 1837 Jackson was retired, he still thought of himself as the Party's leader and was shown trying to get the donkey (the party, figuratively) to go where he wanted it to go. The cartoon was titled "A Modern Baalim and his Ass".

This is an allusion to a Biblical story in which the donkey becomes the only creature other than man to which God grants the gift of speech. The story of Baalim and his Ass is at Numbers 22:22. Here is an illuminating portion of that story:

When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam was angry and struck the donkey with his stick.

And the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?"

Then Balaam said to the donkey, "Because you have made a mockery of me! If there had been a sword in my hand, I would have killed you by now."

The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I ever been accustomed to do so to you?" And he said, "No."

Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed all the way to the ground.

The angel of the Lord said to him, "Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out as an adversary, because your way was contrary to me.

"But the donkey saw me and turned aside from me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, I would surely have killed you just now, and let her live."


Now isn’t ironic that the donkey is beaten by Baalim for trying to save his life from dangers he is deluded into misapprehending? Yes, I’d have to say that the donkey is ever more an appropriate mascot of the Democratic party. The people may abuse us, cast us out of power, and heap derision upon us, but we remain faithful servents of the public interest none-the-less, trying to strip the scales from the public's eyes and guide them away from danger.

Unfortunately, the abuse of donkeys isn’t always metaphorical, nor electorial, nor are the donkeys always symbolic. There are real donkeys, gentle and patient creatures, who are sorely in need of aid.

Donkeys are regualrly abused on farms, ranches, side shows, and traveling attractions. Hundreds of wild donkeys are in danger of being slaughtered by the Bureau of Land Management. The life some donkeys endure will literally bring tears to your eyes. Fortunately, Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue is dedicated to helping these animals escape their torturers and live a life free from fear and pain.

Show your love for the donkey, symbol of the democratic values we cherish, by helping a real one find a loving home today.

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